A lot of compacts these days have ever increasing zoom ranges, thanks to clever optics that manage to squeeze an awful lot of glass and gadgetry into ever shrinking camera bodies. But, as I have found from experience, all is not what it’s often cracked up to be. The extra zoom can come in handy, but the image at the far end of the focal range does tend to distort, soften and in anything but bright day light (and without a tripod), blur. Quite often beyond repair.
That was true of my old Nikon 8700 and it’s 8x lens. And of my Panasonic TZ5 with its 10x Leica lens. And with my newest Panasonic, the Lumix FZ35 with it’s 18x lens. This isn’t to say there was a problem with any of these camera. They all did a fantastic job and served me well. It’s simply down to physics and the resulting limitations of compact cameras with their huge lenses.
So, it’s fair to say, I had my doubts about the Fuji HS10 and its simply enormous 30x Fujinon lens. Would I be able to extend it even half way, hand held, and get a decent picture? And what value is a 30x lens anyway? Well I have been out and about with it, shooting away, and checking out the results. And, quite frankly, I’ve been blown away by those results. No it can’t defy the laws of physics, but it does seem to manage to work its way round a few of them.
Take the image above for example. It’s not a special photo, or of anything interesting. But it does make a statment about how good the Fuji lens and the image stabilisation is. I’ve not retouched either photo, other than to overlay the zoomed section in the left hand shot and put a glow around it to make it easier for you to identify. The image on the right is at full zoom, and with a little post processing, I could easily turn that into a near perfect photo.
It was taken during the middle of the day, but it’s in a shaded area. And hand held. And not a bit of hand shake blur. The image stabilisation is really phenomenal in my opinion. The photos below are also all taken outdoors during daylight, at or very, very close to maximum zoom, and they’re all pretty sharp and perfectly acceptable. To come back to my earlier question, about the value of a 30x lens. I can get decent shots that I simply wouldn’t even have tried for previously. I have a few more photos demonstrating the zoom range in a Flickr set that you can check out – click here.